Hey saltwater aquarium fans,
The mammoth topic of todays blog is moving your saltwater aquarium, everyone will have to do this at some stage; best case scenario is a few metres worst case scenario is a few hundred miles!
Moving is very stressful for marine life most of all corals, but there are some things you can do to reduce the likelihood of fatalities.
The first step is some forward planning by you:
Choose the exact new location for the tank, set up what you can already.
Make sure you don’t feed your marine life the day before or the day of the move as this will result in excess fouling of transport water.
Ensure the aquariums water is clean before the day of the move by doing a series of partial water changes on the days leading up to it.
Make sure you have the entire day of the move off (start early!) and get your hands on some (clean, residue-free) containers to transport your marine life, rocks, sand, invertebrates, water. Plastic chillers or ice chests are great because they’re insulated so resist changes in temperature better which will make things more bearable for your stressed marine life. Buckets are great for live rock/sand and water. Every container needs to be light enough to move with one or two people.
If you are super organised a great idea is to set up bare-bones quarantine tanks before the day of the move with fish separated from corals, live rock, each other etc.
If you are moving a long way having extra water prepared for water changes and top offs enroute, these can be a lifesaver. You will also need pre-prepared water for water changes and acclimation once you get to your destination. Water for the tank at the new destination should be prepared beforehand and have parameters as close as possible to what was in the tank before (temp, pH, salinity).
Start by taking out fish and inverts separating them and putting them in containers half full of water from the tank. Start as early in the day as possible and separate the marine life from each other as much as you can (each coral should ALWAYS be by itself) putting compatible species together if you need to, use battery powered pumps if you can get them, especially for the bigger livestock containers. Next grab the Live Rock, Live rock needs to stay wet, you can even pack it in damp newspaper for short journeys.
Take out and save as much water as you can before it gets too cloudy by you disturbing the tank, use containers with lids! Next scoop out the substrate and drain it put it into a plastic bag or container (live sand should stay moist). Get rid of all the rest of the mucky-by-now water.
Right now is a great time to say add some ammonia neutraliser to the water of each container, accumulated ammonia burns the skin of marine life and builds up in their systems which can be fatal even days later. This and temperature shock are the biggest moving day killers.
You will want to secure all the smaller containers in big ones if you can making sure your fish and inverts are experiencing as little movement as possible. Keeping them in the dark also reduces stress.
Next the tank itself will need to be carried to the vehicle (use friends), secured and the sides protected from any bangs (a broken tank during your move is really the last thing you need), all the gear can be carefully put into a bucket, take care to wrap the glass stuff. Filter media should stay wet to keep the bacteria alive.
Once you get to your new destination as smoothly and quickly as possible, get the marine life inside ASAP and do a partial water change for each container (using old tank water you saved), then begin acclimating using the new tank water drip by drip.
Now get busy getting the live rock submerged in new water and set up the aquarium (if its not a new tank, in this case you would have done it before) rinse the equipment in the old tank water and put the remainder with the new water to be put in the tank.
Keep the lights of for the rest of the day and don’t feed until the next day.